LeBron James, Cavaliers squeeze past Heat

Miami Heat's James Johnson, right, knocks the ball loose from Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James in the first half of their NBA basketball game on Wednesday, January 31. (AP)
Updated 01 February 2018
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LeBron James, Cavaliers squeeze past Heat

CLEVELAND: LeBron James scored 24 points, Jae Crowder made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:21 left and the Cleveland Cavaliers began a long stretch without injured All-Star Kevin Love by holding off the Miami Heat 91-89 on Wednesday night.
The Cavs rebounded from a troubling loss at Detroit — Cleveland gave up 125 points to the undermanned Pistons — and prevented the Heat from overtaking them for third place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Cleveland played its first game since Love broke his left hand against the Pistons. The five-time All-Star is consulting with surgeons in New York, and it’s possible he’ll undergo an operation as early as Thursday. Love, who could miss two months, already has screws in the hand from a previous procedure after he broke it in 2009 with Minnesota.
While he’s out, the Cavs have to hold themselves together.
Goran Dragic scored 18 and Josh Richardson 15 to lead the Heat, who went just 3 of 28 on 3-pointers.
Miami had a last chance after Cleveland’s Kyle Korver made one of two free throws with seven seconds left, but Heat forward James Johnson, harassed by James on the baseline, couldn’t get off a shot before the horn sounded.
The Cavs have been enveloped in drama all season. There have been injuries, blowout losses, persistent trade rumors and more story lines than a day-time soap opera.
“As The Land Turns,” coach Tyronn Lue said with a sigh following his pregame media availability.
The chaos could continue, but for at least one night things didn’t get any worse for the Cavs, who went 6-8 in January and have been plagued by shoddy defense.
It was the first time they’ve held a team under 90 points since Nov. 20.
Despite going just 1 of 16 on 3-pointers, Miami overcame a 14-point deficit to take a 50-48 lead at halftime.


Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

Updated 51 min 42 sec ago
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Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

  • Roger Federer plays down chances of his winning the mega title

PARIS: After a tantrum in Italy last week, Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the French Open on Friday.

The ATP said the Australian player cited illness as the reason.

Last week at the Italian Open, the 36th-ranked Kyrgios was defaulted and fined during his second-round match after an outburst of rage. Trailing against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud, Kyrgios slammed his racket to the clay and kicked a water bottle. Then he picked up a white chair and flung it onto the court.

Kyrgios was fined and lost ATP points but escaped suspension and was expected to play in Paris.

His withdrawal came only days after Kyrgios posted a video online in which he said the French Open “sucks” when compared to Wimbledon, where he trained recently.

In 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal. He was fined $12,500 and given a suspended 28-day ban. He also attracted criticism for deciding not to play at the Olympics because of a spat with an Australian team official, and for firing back at retired players who have offered advice.

Also on Friday, Roger Federer played down his chances of winning the French Open on his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015, saying that title-winning form might not be “in his racquet.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion missed the French Open in 2016 through injury before sitting out the next two clay-court seasons in order to focus on Wimbledon.

But he will make his Roland Garros return on Sunday with a first-round tie against unheralded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Federer admitted that he is unsure of his title chances, but did compare his current situation with when he ended a five-year Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open in 2017.

“(I) don’t know (if I can win the tournament). A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in ‘17,” the 2009 French Open winner said.

“A bit of the unknown. I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I’m not sure if it’s in my racquet.

“But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys. But first I need to get there and I know that’s a challenge in itself.”

Despite being the third seed, Federer faces a tricky draw, with a possible quarter-final against Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas — who beat him in the Australian Open last 16 — and a potential last-four clash with 11-time champion and old adversary Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, Nadal said on Friday that he “doesn’t care” if he is the red-hot favorite to lift a record-extending 12th French Open title, insisting that there are a host of players in contention for the trophy.

The world number two holds an incredible French Open win-loss record of 86-2, and hit top form by winning his ninth Italian Open last week with a final victory over old rival Novak Djokovic.